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Oh Sepultura, what the hell happened? And why did people encourage you? Many mysteries surround this album from the Brazilian quartet, Where did the album come from? And why did people not jump on them and tell them emphatically "No! Go back"? There were no hints at what the album was going to be like, admittedly, Arise had a lot more crush and a lot less neck breaking thrash, but only in comparison to Schizophrenia and Beneath The Remains. Most of the other bands who had these massive changes have always had clues that it could happen, but really, there weren't any here. They just stopped kicking ass.
As you may have guessed, Sepultura have undergone some changes since Arise. And clearly, they're not very good. The band has adopted a more groove based approach, with the tribal sounds taking a larger hold over the band, rather than just being a cool signature to mix up the speed. Now, I love groove metal and half-thrash, as its where I came into metal from, but this is just bad half-thrash. Almost every riff just sounds so damn boring. I bought this at the height of my half-thrash adoration period, and it still bored me to tears. And yes, this is before I heard any of the earlier albums, so it's not even in comparison, it sucks outright.
Things kick off well enough, Refuse/Resist has a couple of faster thrashish punk riffs in it's arsenal, and I happen to be a fan of Max's lower, louder vocals. Although they do suffer from 'vocal retardation', where the approach of singing makes the vocalist sound like they're retarded. This is usually seen in bad death metal vocalists. Territory has a couple of nice groove riffs as the band shows off it's new half-thrash style, namely tom heavy drumming, and riffs which generally involve a couple of quick notes followed by a drawn out one or two. It's fun for about two songs.
Unfortunately by the time 'Amen' chugs around, everything is kind of dull. And unfortunately doing spoken verses isn't the way to excite people. And you find yourself losing concentration on the music, and thinking about insects in the room, and whether you remembered to put your phone on the charger. And 40 minutes of thinking about unrelated things later, the album finishes, and you can't remember a moment of what you just listened to.
What I don't understand is how they got away with this, most people will tell you to go out and buy this one first, even people who hate the new stuff. It just doesn't make sense, Sepultura were never really a band you listened to for variation, or overt technicality, neither of which are present here, but hell they had so much energy, and really, that was it. If you take away that energy Sepultura are just an average band with a slight change in sound because they're not from a standard geographical area. That's it...
The production on offer is meaty and as heavy as possible, which is a good choice if moving into a half-thrash sound. Oh how Vio-lence missed that on 'Nothing to Gain'. At least that album had great music being played, this one doesn't have that, it only has the right production.
Guitar wise, there's some problems, Max Cavelara and Andreas Kisser both put in dull performances. None of the riffs have any bite, or are really all that catchy, it's like Pantera without any drive behind it, it's just some low notes being played after each other with no reason. The soling is pretty shit too, but not too many groove bands had great soloists in them.
Most of the faster riffs come across as punk to me, just like with Nailbomb I'm pretty sure it's the name which makes people say 'that's a thrash riff' instead of a punk riff. Manifest has some cool stuff, but the only other song which tries to pick up speed, 'Biotech is Godzilla', is ruined beyond imagination by the lyrics and the pathetic little add-ins after the chorus, such as the nauseatingly bad 'Godzilla... raaar'. This sort of shit happens much too often too, such as the stupid laughing at the ends of a couple of songs.
The drumming here is actually pretty nice, being a half-thrash fan, I love it when the drums get a big say in the sound, and Igor certainly has some fun with his new production, as the massive drum sound does suit his very powerful drumming. As with all Sepultura albums, the bass is insignificant.
Vocally, Max is a little excessive in his desire to be heavy. I like them, but he tends to sounds a bit mentally challenged as he slurs his words stupidly. Very much a personal taste and can easily piss people off. Lyrically, he is disgraceful, 'We Who Are Not As Others' has the title as it's only lyrics. And yes, it's a full song, Max just repeats the title a dozen times. Of course you have your un-knowledgeable protest songs, such as the previously mentioned 'Biotech...', which seems to be like Max just thought, 'biological engineering sounds bad, I think I don't like it... I wonder what it involves, never mind, It's just bad, like Godzilla', and then wrote a bunch of stupid lyrics. Most of the other songs take the idea of 'We Who Are Not As Others', and extended that notion out to 3 verses and a chorus.
Overall this an poor album, in fact it outright sucks, and wouldn't even garner attention if it weren't for the albums before it. There's a few good riffs on some of the songs, Manifest, and The Hunt Come to mind, and the grooves are catchy enough on Territory, but for the main part, this is a terrible album, and should have been a black mark in the bands history, but people an embraced it, and now look what we have... Thanks fans.